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Paul Vadakumpadan, Guwahati says,
Holy Men?
By Fr Paul Vadakumpadan
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Guwahati, Dec. 16. We always need holy men and women. But who are they and what are they like? We need not only holy but also men and women, genuine human beings. In other words, holy men today need to be more human. Does that mean we need more humanity and less sanctity? Not exactly. Deeper humanity will lead to higher sanctity.

We always need holy men and women. But who are they and what are they like? We need not only holy but also men and women, genuine human beings. In other words, holy men today need to be more human. Does that mean we need more humanity and less sanctity? Not exactly. Deeper humanity will lead to higher sanctity.

Holiness after all is the work of God`s grace. No one becomes holy by oneself, however much he/she may try. Grace sanctifies a person. In fact we call the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier. It is his work. All that we can do is to let him do his part. Often we do not do that. We place hurdles in the way. Being human, instead, is not as simple as that. It may be more demanding to be human than to be holy. It`s high time we abandoned watertight compartments between the various dimensions of human life. Let us look at some examples.

A person spends hours in prayer, but is a burden on other people.  Is this a holy man?  Perhaps, he is. But I wonder how human he is. In any case, he is much better than the one who does not pray and is also a burden on others. That is cold comfort.

What about those who are ready to work themselves to death for God`s glory? This must be   virtual martyrdom. But if such people also kill others in the process, it is far from martyrdom. It is outright murder. There is no holiness in such untiring work for God.

What about certain defenders of orthodoxy, who may be more Catholic than the Pope? However, if they desire also to sit on the papal throne, it is no more holiness, but ambition. It can be a serious sin. The apostles had a real problem in this matter. Even on the eve of Jesus` passion, they were caught in unholy rivalry. Similarly too those who scourge themselves, fast endlessly, sleep little, but crave after posts and positions. Holy perhaps, but far from human.

Emphasising the invisible but ignoring the visible has never been the road to sanctity. St. John put it in language that just cannot be improved anymore. He said, ``Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.`` A great theologian said, ``Grace builds on nature``. In other words, ``wash your face first, then put on cosmetics.`` Take care of the human face; the Holy Spirit will take care of the divine.

A divine face without a human face may turn out to be a mere mask. God became man because he wanted a human face. In being genuinely human, we will also become divine. Or more correctly, we will become signs of the divine. To be signs of God in a truly human way, to translate divine love into human love, that is the meaning of being holy. We need many more such holy men and women not only today but every day.

Happy Christmas. In the New Year, may we all become ever more human and humane.
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